Mitochondrial permeability transition as the critical target of N-acetyl perfluorooctane sulfonamide toxicity in vitro

Timothy M. O'Brien, Kendall B Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Perfluorooctanyl compounds with active functional groups have been shown to disrupt mitochondrial bioenergetics by three distinct mechanisms: protonophoric uncoupling of mitochondrial respiration, induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT), or a nonselective increase in membrane permeability. The purpose of this investigation was to identify the initial target and specific sequence of events associated with the N-acetyl substituted perfluorooctanesulfonamides induced MPT. N-acetyl-perfluorooctanesulfonamide (FOSAA), N-ethyl-N-acetyl-perfluorooctane-sulfonamide (N-Et FOSAA), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), and N-ethyl-N-(2-ethoxy)-perfluorooctanesulfonamide (N-Et FOSE) were added individually to liver mitochondria freshly isolated from Sprague-Dawley rats. Mitochondrial swelling and cytochrome c release were recorded spectrophotometrically, oxygen uptake was monitored with a Clark-type oxygen electrode, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were monitored by dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (H2DCFDA) fluorescence. FOSAA (45 μM) and N-Et FOSAA (7.5 μM) induced calcium-dependent mitochondrial swelling, the release of cytochrome c, inhibition of uncoupled mitochondrial respiration, and ROS generation, all of which were inhibited by cyclosporin-A (CsA). PFOA (200 μM) displayed slight CsA sensitive activity, but neither PFOS (10 μM) nor N-Et FOSE (70 μM) induced the MPT. Results of this investigation demonstrate two important findings: (1) MPT induction is specific to the N-acetyl substituted perfluorooctanesulfonamides and, (2) the sequence of events is initiated by induction of the MPT, which causes the release of cytochrome c as well as other cofactors leading to inhibition of respiration and ROS generation. The toxicity of N-acetyl perfluorooctanyl compounds may therefore reflect the mitochondrial dysfunction, which is compounded by the ensuing oxidative injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-340
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a generous grant from the 3 M Company. The authors would also like to thank James A. Bjork, Jessica M. Berthiaume, and Kaleb C. Lund for their technical support and insight, and Dr. John L. Butenhoff for his expert review of this manuscript.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Mitochondria
  • PFOA
  • PFOS
  • Permeability transition

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